This is two CDs of musically solid tunes, with incredible flow and skill with words. I like his songs about respect, and being strong, and trying to do good in the world. I can handle the language (can’t hurt these ears). But I just don’t dig tunes with regressive posturing, boasting and violent ideas, by anybody. I understand it’s his experience, and I know there’s a time and a place, I really do. I just prefer the message of Keep Ya Head Up to something like Hit Em Up.
Right. So it makes total sense that I post Slayer, Yaz, and then 2Pac f. Outlawz in a row, right? Sure! Can’t say my listening isn’t varied, lately…
Every time I listen to 2pac, I wonder how I’m gonna write it up. I’m no expert on the man, his work, or his legacy. But then I find a copy, like this one, real cheap. The internet says it’s awesome, so I go for it and here we are.
Here’s a blurb: “Still I Rise, the third posthumous release of “new” material by Tupac Shakur, is not surprisingly a mixed bag. Recorded in 1996 with the Outlawz, the disc at its best does showcase the power of ‘Pac. More politically acute (and complexly anti-Clinton) than most gangsta rap even attempts to be, “Letter to the President” and “The Good Die Young” find the star turning in some of his most focused lyrics and performances. Elsewhere, he often cedes the mic to other voices; the collaborations that result–“Secretz of War”, “Tattoo Tears”, the title cut–are the equivalent of campfire songs for the latter-day black cowboy. Dominated by phat beats and familiar imagery, they entertain but hardly illuminate.” (Amazon)
I agree with all of that except the bit about failing to illuminate. I’ve always said that there were 2pacs… one was a gangbanger and a roughrider. The other talked about equality and hope and peace. I always like the latter, and have no time for the bullshit former (rapper posturing make me so tired). When 2pac gets it right, he really gets it really right.
That blurb mentions Letter To The President… It was written to Bill Clinton, but it could be applicable to any term, even this current shitshow. The Good Die Young is the same. Nothing ever changes and we’re doomed to repeat history if we don’t learn from it. Heard that before? Yup.
Musically, 2pac always had a soulful, funky, sweet backing sound and, as usual, I love that side of it. The rapping is laid back, almost lulling, but the words keep you with it, always moving, always thinking.
Apparently, “Baby Don’t Cry (Keep Ya’ Head Up II),” featuring vocals from Heavynn, Erica and Tiana of H.E.A.T., a female pop group, as well as E.D.I. Mean and Young Noble, was the only single from the album.
Though I’m no expert, I’d say this is a solid release. It held my attention, and it had a lot to say, which I would expect from 2pac, who I always considered one of the better conscious rappers (when he wasn’t posturing, see above). And though a lot of what they had to say here was sad, depressing, bleak, I came away with a sense of hope, that if folks would just wake the hell up, things could improve. Hence the album title, Still I Rise, eh?
I was digging around and found a box of CDs I’d set aside as possible Hit/Quit albums ages ago. They’ve been seperate from the main collection long enough that they’re not even in my alphabetical list. Oy.
So, had I remembered that I had all of these discs set aside, this 2Pac album would actually have been All The Everything Pt.3, and 54-40 would have been Pt.4. Ah well, as long as I’m covering stuff, it’s all good. Also, this seems to be the only 2Pac album currently in my collection, which is odd. I know I’ve had more in the past…
1997 – R U Still Down? (Remember Me) (2CD)
I have already reviewed this album right here, almost exactly two years ago. Funny thing is, I wrote up a whole review yesterday before discovering this, and I realized I’d said exactly the same damn thing now! Apparently I am consistent on this set and, if you’re interested, all you need to do is click that link and go see what I wrote.
Short version for this post, though: This was way too long, too full of stuff that should never have seen release (either too angry* or too juvenile). There are decent tracks, they’re just buried under the more plentiful dubious stuff. I dug the music, though. Maybe it could have been a single disc, with the worst stuff left off. I shouldn’t be too hard on it, there were tracks that I liked, but overall, I really won’t be needing to keep this. A hits set would be all I’d need. Quit.
* A lot of the angry tracks come across as all talk and posturing, just words that sound tough and cool.